US taxpayers voice opposition to Wall St bonuses

11 November 2008

After funding a $700 billion bailout of the investment banking industry, many US taxpayers are demanding that year-end bonuses for Wall Street firms are not just reduced but scrapped altogether, reports say.

Nine of America's biggest banks were rescued by the federal package - including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo and the Bank of America - amid warnings that the financial system itself faced total meltdown.

The taxpayers who funded the bailout now "feel they own a stake" in the former Masters of the Universe - and many are strongly opposed to the payment of any year-end benefits, Bloomberg reports.

It adds that while industry figures argue bonuses are necessary to hang on to the sector's best performers, they are viewed by some as a symptom of an "appalling" sense of entitlement and as a reward for spectacular failure.

Former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Arthur Levitt told the site that bonus and severance pay will "obsess" public opinion and could become a "humiliation and embarrassment" for Wall Street.

According to Reuters, New York's state assembly predicts Wall Street bonuses could fall by 41 per cent next year.

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